Gentamicin ear drops

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Gentamicin drops are used to treat ear infections. Follow carefully the instructions you have been given for using the drops.

Unless you have been told otherwise, use two or three drops three or four times a day, and also at night.

Throw the bottle away after your treatment has finished, even if there is some liquid left.
Type of medicineAnti-infective ear drop
Used forTreatment of ear infections in adults and children
Available asDrops

Gentamicin ear drops are prescribed for bacterial ear infections. The drops kill germs (bacteria) which are the cause of infection. If the ear is swollen as well as infected (as in otitis externa, for example), your doctor may prescribe gentamicin ear drops which also contain hydrocortisone. These drops will reduce the inflammation as well as treat the infection.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you (or your child) start using gentamicin drops, it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you have a burst (perforated) eardrum.
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to gentamicin or to any other antibiotic, or to any other ear drops.
  • If you have a condition called myasthenia gravis. This is a condition which causes muscle weakness.
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.

Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about the drops and will provide you with a full list of any side-effects which you may experience from using them.

  1. Wash your hands before you begin.
  2. Clean your ear gently with warm water and pat it dry.
  3. Remove the cap from the bottle of ear drops.
  4. Lie down, or tilt your head a little, so that the affected ear is facing upwards.
  5. Gently pull your earlobe to straighten the ear canal.
  6. Hold the container upside down near to the ear. Try not to touch the inside of your ear as you do this.
  7. Apply enough pressure to the container to release two or three drops into your ear.
  8. Keep your ear facing upwards for a few minutes to allow the solution to come into contact with the affected area.
  9. Repeat the process in your other ear if you have been asked to use the drops in both ears.
  10. Replace the cap on to the bottle of drops.
  • Use the drops exactly as you have been advised by your doctor. It is likely that your doctor will recommend you use the drops three or four times during the day, and also at night. Try not to miss any doses. If you forget to put the drops in on time, do it as soon as you remember.
  • Do not try to clean inside your ear with cotton buds. If you stick buds or other objects into your ear, they can damage and irritate the inflamed skin, and make things worse. Just wipe the outside of your ear with a clean cloth or tissue if any discharge appears.
  • You will be prescribed a short course of treatment (usually no more than 7-10 days). If you feel your infection is no better after this time, make another appointment to see your doctor for advice.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the ones associated with gentamicin ear drops. The best place to find a full list of the side-effects which can be associated with your medicine, is from the manufacturer's printed information leaflet supplied with the medicine. Alternatively, you can find an example of a manufacturer's information leaflet in the reference section below. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Gentamicin ear drop side-effectsWhat can I do if I experience this?
Mild irritation, itching or stingingIf this continues or becomes severe, speak with your doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the drops, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • Throw away the bottle of ear drops after you have finished your course of treatment, even if there is some liquid left. Do not keep opened bottles to use later, as ear drops must not be used if the bottle has been opened for longer than four weeks. 

If you suspect that someone has swallowed some of this medicine, contact the accident and emergency department of your local hospital for advice

If you buy any medicines check with a pharmacist that they are safe to use with your other medicines.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are using.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Gentamicin Eye/Ear Drops 0.3%; FDC International Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2015.
  • British National Formulary; 72nd Edition (Sep 2016) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
3666 (v24)
Last Checked:
02/11/2016
Next Review:
02/11/2019
The Information Standard - certified member

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